The Star (Kenya)

Why Ju­bilee fac­tion wars could be­come na­tional se­cu­rity threat

If sec­tions of the Cab­i­net have taken un­equiv­o­cal stands on po­lit­i­cal events, it will def­i­nitely be fac­tions

- COLLINS AJUOK @Th­es­tarkenya The writer com­ments on top­i­cal is­sues U.S. News · Politics · Elections · Uhuru Kenyatta · Kenya · Central Province · Metropolitan Police Service · William Ruto · Mwai Kibaki · Kikuyu · Raila Odinga · David Musila · Daniel arap Moi · George Saitoti · Machakos

Iwatched in hor­ror last week as El­geyo Marak­wet Se­na­tor Kipchumba Murkomen in an un­prece­dented fash­ion took on Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta on Ci­ti­zen TV.

Se­na­tor Murkomen sug­gested rather lib­er­ally that Pres­i­dent Keny­atta suf­fers an in­fe­ri­or­ity com­plex that makes him want to keep his deputy, Wil­liam Ruto, away from the lime­light.

Barely 48 hours later, it was the turn of En­vi­ron­ment CS Keriako To­biko. Point­ing his fin­ger like a vil­lage di­viner curs­ing evil spir­its, To­biko pro­ceeded to de­mand that Murkomen and Ruto must re­spect Uhuru, but not be­fore declar­ing with ut­most con­tempt that the DP him­self was a mere clerk of the Pres­i­dent.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Tan­gatanga folks, who had found noth­ing wrong with Murkomen’s ut­ter­ances two days ear­lier, sud­denly found the CS’S at­tacks against Ruto dis­re­spect­ful and un­war­ranted. Be­cause Murkomen is a politi­cian, and one with a tongue so loose that it could make it to a Loose Tongue Hall of Fame, if ever there was one, it was easy to place his rant­ings in a fa­mil­iar pat­tern. Not so with CS To­biko.

It is in­con­ceiv­able that a pub­lic ser­vant who took an oath to serve a non-par­ti­san cause, would re­fer to one of his bosses in such un­palat­able terms, no mat­ter the jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Speak­ing of jus­ti­fi­ca­tion, it may not ap­pear to the min­is­ters who as­sume they are en­gag­ing in par­ti­san pol­i­tics on be­half of the Pres­i­dent, that their words tend to con­vey a dis­turb­ing un­der­ly­ing mes­sage: That ei­ther the Pres­i­dent is now too weak to fight his own wars with his deputy, or that he has run out of real politi­cians to take on the DP’S fac­tion on his be­half.

The love-hate re­la­tion­ship be­tween Kenya’s past and cur­rent pres­i­dents with their prin­ci­pal as­sis­tants has been well doc­u­mented. In his me­moir, Sea­sons of Hope, for­mer Mwingi South MP David Musila re­vis­its some in­ci­dents dat­ing back to the per­se­cu­tion of Vice Pres­i­dent Daniel Moi by ju­nior Keny­atta lack­eys, and later, Moi’s own poor treat­ment of Kibaki, who his han­dlers con­stantly treated with sus­pi­cion.

At some point, Kibaki’s fa­ther was mur­dered by a ser­vant, and Musila, the then Cen­tral provin­cial com­mis­sioner, started mak­ing ar­range­ments for the pres­i­dent’s visit for the burial.

He took it for granted that Moi would at­tend his VP’S fa­ther’s burial.

He was shocked when the Pres­i­dent said he wouldn’t, and no amount of plead­ing would change his mind. See­ing as the Pres­i­dent had graced many “or­di­nary” buri­als, Musila asked the Pres­i­dent to at least send a se­nior of­fi­cial, af­ter he asked him (Musila) to rep­re­sent him. Moi dis­patched Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter GG Kar­iuki, a fel­low Kikuyu, mak­ing the un­der­ly­ing con­tempt rather loud.

Of course the treat­ment of VP Josephat Karanja and Prof Ge­orge Saitoti later pro­vides the prover­bial ic­ing on the cake to this pat­tern.

The 2010 Con­sti­tu­tion was sup­posed to be the panacea to this mad­ness - by in­tro­duc­ing a DP elected on the same ticket as the Pres­i­dent and one who didn’t have to serve at the whims of the Pres­i­dent. But none of the past cases comes close to what Kenyans have been treated to in the proxy wars be­tween Pres­i­dent Keny­atta and DP Ruto. All in­di­ca­tions are that the proxy stage is end­ing soon,or has ended, and the two gen­tle­men will soon be go­ing for each other like the fa­bled Kilkenny Cats.

An ap­pe­tizer of sorts was served over the week­end, when Ruto vis­ited Machakos county, and on his road­side stops, lo­cal MPS in his fac­tion threw jibes at the Pres­i­dent as Ruto laughed out loudly enough to be picked by the mi­cro­phone.

It would be naïve to as­sume the Pres­i­dent won’t be en­ter­ing the ring soon. How­ever, this is a spec­ta­cle that Kenyans are not fa­mil­iar with, one in which the coun­try’s Com­man­der-in-chief and the na­tion’s sym­bol of na­tional unity en­gages in an five-year po­lit­i­cal war that ap­pears to es­ca­late with a divisive elec­tion in the off­ing.

If the DP stays on in gov­ern­ment upto the elec­tion time, it will also be the first time in the coun­try’s his­tory that the hold­ers of the coun­try’s two high­est of­fices, cam­paign against each other, with all the at­ten­dant po­ten­tial fac­tional dif­fer­ences in gov­ern­ment and se­cu­rity ser­vices.

In­ter­est­ingly, Murkomen said in the same in­ter­view that Raila was not to blame for the Ju­bilee di­vi­sions any­more, por­tend­ing a new phase where Ruto al­lies would now be deal­ing with Uhuru squarely. Therein lies what should worry Kenyans the most.

If sec­tions of the Cab­i­net have taken un­equiv­o­cal stands on po­lit­i­cal events in the coun­try, it goes with­out say­ing that there will be fac­tions in it, with the DP’S loy­al­ists be­ing forced to wear the team colours in the an­tic­i­pated con­tests.

One prob­lem with a gen­eral elec­tion is that the nearer it gets, the more peo­ple are in­clined to drop in­hi­bi­tions, cre­at­ing a sce­nario where peo­ple oth­er­wise sworn to non-par­ti­san de­liv­ery of ser­vices sud­denly pick a side.

I do not un­der­stand why In­te­rior CS Fred Ma­tiang’i needs to be present at th­ese func­tions where his col­leagues throw the civil ser­vice rule book out of the win­dow. His po­si­tion makes him the man we should all run to, if all th­ese ill-ad­vised ven­tures blow up in our faces. It is in­cum­bent upon him to stay away from the divisive talk.

The Pres­i­dent and his deputy have ac­cess to daily se­cu­rity in­tel­li­gence brief­ings. It must surely oc­cur to them that the un­con­trolled rhetoric from their sup­port­ers is this close to be­ing a tool for eth­nic mo­bil­i­sa­tion and po­lar­i­sa­tion of the coun­try.

They have both spo­ken about the hard choices they had to make to get to where they are, given the past an­i­mos­ity be­tween their com­mu­ni­ties. They must know that it is the al­leged Kibaki regime treat­ment of Kalen­jins in gov­ern­ment from 2003-07 that planted the seeds that would be trag­i­cally har­vested as the post-elec­tion vi­o­lence of 2007-08.

Then, as now, the rhetoric cen­tered around per­ceived be­trayal, and me­ta­mor­phosed into a fierce sense of in­jus­tice. The Pres­i­dent’s com­mu­nity may ap­pear aloof and non­cha­lant right now, but the DP’S com­mu­nity is never averse to turn­ing this type of po­lit­i­cal quar­rel into a hot cui­sine of siege men­tal­ity, whose im­pli­ca­tions we don’t need to dig into our his­tory to gauge.

Uhuru and Ruto must be called to or­der, and be ad­vised that the coun­try is big­ger than them. If they are un­able to work to­gether any­more, they should meet as they did when form­ing their coali­tion and find out where the rain started beat­ing them. They should con­se­quently make a de­ci­sion that their con­tin­ued war while in gov­ern­ment is no longer sus­tain­able for the well­be­ing and na­tional sta­bil­ity of the coun­try.

Be­fore they po­larise the coun­try to the level of 2008, one or both of them must bite the bul­let, step aside and save us from ap­proach­ing an elec­tion while check­ing out con­di­tions of pos­si­ble IDP camps.

Even more scary is the un­com­fort­able prospect of what would hap­pen if, God for­bid, some­thing hap­pened to one of them in the divisive en­vi­ron­ment they have cre­ated. We shouldn’t have to get to that.


 ?? /EZEKIEL AMING’A ?? Se­na­tors Kipchumba Murkomen (El­geyo Marak­wet), John Kinyua (Laikipia), Su­san Ki­hika (Nakuru) and Christo­pher Lan­gat (Bomet) on Au­gust 11
/EZEKIEL AMING’A Se­na­tors Kipchumba Murkomen (El­geyo Marak­wet), John Kinyua (Laikipia), Su­san Ki­hika (Nakuru) and Christo­pher Lan­gat (Bomet) on Au­gust 11
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